Nursing Homes Use Virtual Reality Technology to Help Residents Resolve Isolation – New Brunswick Today

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey—To help residents cope with social isolation, Parker Life on Landing Lane in New Brunswick has incorporated the virtual reality (VR) platform called Rendever.

There are also Parker Life homes in Somerset, Monroe, Stonegate and River Road. Homes have made changes to meet the needs of their residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the incorporation of virtual reality technology.

“Parker is always interested in looking for new ways to enhance the experiences of our residents, whether through technology or care and services,” said Judy Collett-Miller, director of Planning and Technological Innovation at Parker Life. “We know virtual reality. It has been around for a long time. It has become more popular within the aging services, so we have been thinking about it ”.

Collett-Miller says the pandemic accelerated his efforts to use that service.

“We contacted two companies we knew and then did a review of the two products,” he said. “In fact, we had sent headphones to all of our venues so all of our recreation directors could use the equipment. They gave us demos before we made our selection.”

The companies were Rendever and MyndVR, and they chose Rendever. It was about getting more opportunities for positive experiences for Parker Life residents.

Ever since they used the product, residents have had a wonderful reaction to it.

“I have to say that from the moment they started using it, they liked it a lot for very different reasons,” Collett-Miller said. “Even though we had restrictions, we were able to do some virtual tours.”

For obvious reasons, residents were unable to do many group activities, but were separated in their rooms and were able to have a community experience through VR technology.

“They went on a trip to London and other places,” he said. “We’ve used it in group settings, but we’ve also done a lot of individual visits.”

The Parker Life house on Landing Lane, in particular, made many individual visits.

“They had a particular resident who was doing hospice services, and he had been to the Grand Canyon a long time ago and it was one of his favorite experiences,” he said. “They were able to return it to the Grand Canyon via VR.”

Parker Life resident in Landing Lane with Rendever headphones

Virtual reality technology is used to help residents with terminal illness or cognitive decline remember the good times in their lives.

A Parker Life person on Landing Lane resident with dementia was also taken to a waterfall and a museum during VR visits.

“What’s interesting is that it was very interactive,” he said. “I was pointing. She was gesturing. She was moving with technology, so they were very excited to see her committed in a different way than anyone else. ”

Tara Cunningham is Parker Life’s director of activities at Landing Lane and has seen very positive first-hand reactions from residents.

“We started using virtual reality in June 2020,” Cunningham said. “It was something that our technology director, Judy, was informing us about. We all had different meetings to get more information. Since then, it has been a huge success. “

During the course of the pandemic, he saw residents struggling with loneliness, boredom and sadness to stay away from relatives.

“Virtual reality has given them back a sense of belonging,” he said. Growing up with his grandparents, Cunningham has always been interested in caring for the elderly.

“I did a lot of volunteer work and my college internships were also cared for by seniors,” he said.

Even after the pandemic is over, he still plans for home residents to use VR technology. “Not only is it great for travel and culture, but there is a lot going on. One of the other things he’s great at is sensory simulation, ”he said.

For seniors who are non-verbal and unable to make their needs known, residents can still use VR technology to connect with others.

As a recreation supervisor, she manages the daily activities that take place at home. However, the pandemic has challenged him to keep residents connected with their families.

He has been setting up many video communication schedules on Facetime and Skype, at the top of window and outside visits.

Parker staff is at your disposal to help residents use the technology

Jake de Rendever trained the Landing Lane staff and answered all their questions.

The technology is set up on a tablet that syncs with the headphones.

This allows activity managers to send videos to users.

If a resident is not comfortable with the headset, they can start by looking at the tablet and then bring the headset to their eyes and stare at it.

“We started about five years ago,” said Kyle Rand, CEO of Rendever. “We’ve been on a mission.”

He saw the impacts of social isolation on his grandmother, so he has always been interested in helping the elderly population cope with the isolation of aging.

“Data show that health impacts can be as detrimental as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, or an increased risk of dementia, a 32% increase in stroke and a 29% increase in heart disease “, he said.

He wants to bring the world to this special demographic through this technology. “Our basic guiding principle is that the foundation of human relationships is to share positive experiences,” he said.

In his view, a silver pile of this pandemic is that it should not explain the harmful social isolation.

While millions receive the COVID-19 vaccine and things are back to normal, we cannot forget how isolation affects the elderly.

The mortality rate of COVID-19 for the elderly is between 12 and 25% and social isolation increases the mortality rate in this population by up to 30%.

The magic of virtual reality is that older people can connect with others who will also be physically distant.

The company also launched Connection Corner, which allows the user to sit on each other in a virtual trainer after the experience, look at themselves as avatars and continue to communicate with each other.

“Virtual reality has been so bright in something that has been so dark,” he said.

The company approaches 300 communities across North America and also works with health care systems and hospice organizations.

In the future, the company could sell the product directly to consumers outside of residences, but right now they are very happy to work with the elderly care industry.

They are conducting a study funded by the National Institute on Aging to study the impact of virtual family interaction.

“We have a family platform where family members can upload old photos and videos of the family. But they can also take their own 360 camera, film something like a birthday party or a wedding, and the loved one can put on headphones and feel like they are there at the event, ”he said. .

They also have the Reminiscence Journey, or life story creator, where you can recreate someone’s life story based on location by location, such as a children’s home or vacation destination.

“You can take them there in VR and … recreate those moments,” he said.

When a family does it together, the emotional health of older people improves. The caregiver’s guilt also diminishes. The ongoing study is currently in the second phase of clinical trials and has been expanded to twelve locations in the United States.

If a home wants to get the technology, all they have to do is get there. Parker Life at Landing Lane is one of the company’s most active users.

“Any elderly community can use Rendever,” he said.

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